New York City, my original hometown, is the apex of blended cultures and styles, a hub of inspiration and influence. My annual visits are packed with artist dates and long walks to stock my imagination up with new visuals and concepts.
A hidden gem magnetized me with its current show: The Clamor of the Ornament at the Drawing Center, a beautiful space in SoHo, the neighborhood that still has echoes of its nascent art world origins. The eclectic show paid homage to embellishment in myriad uses across centuries,cultures and media. There is a complexity of ornamentation as an element in art and design; the eccentric nature of non-functional elements can define beauty and distract from it at the same time. The balance of elements, where ornamentation becomes a point of focus and not the meaning itself, is fascinating to observe.
With Baroque prints to fanciful wallpapers, kimonos, psychedelic graphics, designer hats, Indian textiles and expressive typography – Piranesi to Milton Glaser, the exhibit impressed me with its visual range. The curation was fun, too. In place of the usual minimalist cards describing the works, these were enclosed in a sinuous frame. Wall colors and backgrounds varied throughout, and the objects were unexepectedly arranged, a nod to the non-linear, sidestepping an overly hierarchical display.
I enjoyed noting the iconic Gucci floral scarf displayed as an object of design. After all, the silk scarf is the ultimate embellishment. While it has a certain practicality, it’s more a whimsical add-on, adding color, pattern and an accent. This ethereal quality is partly why I began designing silk scarves.
Fearless complex expression is a concept I will walk away with from this sweet show and allow to infuse my work even more.